April 9, 2011
WATCH: Skip Myslenski's Interviews
By Skip Myslenski
NUsports.com Special Contributor
The late Ohio State legend Woody Hayes loved to declare that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. Mike Trumpy, the 'Cat running back, is about to become (in the fall) a sophomore and he testifies to the wisdom of Hayes' adage by saying, "I would definitely say I have a lot more confidence this spring. I feel more comfortable with the system. I feel more comfortable with the offensive line. I feel more comfortable with just everything. After playing and being in game situations, I just have so much more confidence. I feel more confident in everything."
And how does that translate to his work on the field?
"First off, you're not thinking. You're just reacting. There were times last year when I was maybe worried about doing the wrong thing or making the wrong cut or messing up. Now I'm not thinking. Everything's second nature and I'm just playing, which is nice. Confidence helps a lot."
Trumpy, of course, had some moments even as a freshman last fall, and he ended the season as his team's leading rusher. But Saturday, in the second 'Cat scrimmage of the spring, his new-and-improved state was on full display as he popped runs of 33 and 25 yards and finished with 63 on a mere 11 carries. "He's playing faster, and that being said, he's out there making a few more plays," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said when asked if Trumpy's confidence was obvious in his play.
"It's the old chicken and egg. Confidence or success? Which has to come first? I think they're parallel. I think you have to understand and know what you're doing to be able to have success, and I think you have to be confident in what you're doing to have success. Then when you have success, you're going to be more confident. So it's a parallel thing going together and I think Mike's in a good spot right now."
Doe he look like a different runner to his coach?
"He's more mature," he says. "He's been in college now. He's been through a couple springs, he's been through the fall, he's been through having to watch, he's been through having to be a starter, he's been through being hurt. He's experienced pretty much everything he's going to see and I just think he's getting better."
Trevor Siemian, the freshman quarterback, dropped back on the second play of Saturday's scrimmage. "I actually was looping outside the tight end and I was supposed to drop. But I didn't read my key correctly," defensive end Tyler Scott later admitted. "So when I saw Trevor pull his hand off the ball, I just turned away and knocked the ball down into my own hands. Worked out." It worked out, that is, for an interception.
Back in Ohio, where he played for Warren's Howland High School, Scott was a 235-pound linebacker and tight end. But, when the 'Cats looked at him, they envisioned him all grown up and laboring in the trenches as a defensive lineman. "We thought his frame was big enough to fill out," remembers defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz. "But what we liked most is he made plays. He was a football player. He knew how to use pads, how to use his hands, how to get off blocks, and we just looked at his frame and felt he was going to get big enough. (Defensive end) Vince Browne was a linebacker. Kevin Watt (another defensive end) was a linebacker. He (Scott) was a linebacker. And if you've got guys that are playing the linebacker position and you move them to line, you hope they'll be a better athlete than a guy who's just an end. That isn't always true. But."
But, we wonder, does he have to be athletic to defend the spread offenses that are all around?
"The thing with defensive ends, in this league, in '08, we played predominantly spread teams in the Big Ten," says Hankwitz, offering a little history lesson here. "Now the pendulum's swung the other way and we play more pound it, run-it-down-your-throat teams. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State. We're playing more run teams. But non-conference we played Rice and Vanderbilt and Central Michigan, spread teams. So they've got to do both now. They've got to be athletic enough to play in space. But they've also got to be physical enough to play against those big teams who are just going to try and run it down your throat. That's where the size, you've got to feel that they can get big enough and strong enough to do that."
Scott is now 260 pounds, another freshman soon-to-be a sophomore and, with his work this spring, a performer who promises to be on the field come fall. "He's just coming on, coming on, coming on," says Fitzgerald. "He's a guy, because I make some coach's decisions and don't let Vince practice and a couple guys are dinged up, he's getting as many reps as he ever dreamed of right now and he's just getting better. He can do a lot. He can play outside, he can play inside in some passing situations, last year we played him at superback in goal line and short yardage, he's very active in the kicking game. He can do a lot."
Hankwitz, we tell him, said he was just a guy who makes plays.
"Exactly. That's what I was alluding to earlier. You pop in the tape and he makes plays in everything he did (in high school). We think he's going to be defensive end. But we know he's going to be something."
The 'Cats were not alone when envisioning Scott on the line. Every school that recruited him, he remembers, viewed him as a defensive end. Which left him thinking exactly what? "I've got to learn a whole new position," he says with a chuckle. "I never put my hand on the ground as a defensive lineman. Defensive end is still fun. You get to run around and do pretty much the same thing as a linebacker in our defense. We drop, we do a lot of things a linebacker would. So it wasn't that big of a change. But it's something you have to get used to."
His hardest adjustment?
"It's forgetting stuff you already know as a linebacker. With the defensive line, it's no more reading. It's all reaction. That's the big thing I had a problem with. I was not focused on my blocker and more focused on the running back. As a linebacker, you read the whole entire picture. On the defensive line you're just focused on the guy ahead of you and from there you react. Once I got that down, things started to come to me more easily."
We tell him both Hankwitz and Fitzgerald referred to him as a playmaker.
"I want make plays. That's what football's all about," he says. "Making plays through your keys and focus and stuff. Making plays is the name of the game. It's what you play football for."
We ask Hankwitz if he is surprised by Scott's emergence this spring. "We saw good things in him last fall when he got a chance to play. He made plays," he said. "He had a lot of production for the time he was in there and he was still in a learning curve."
So he's in the rotation?
"Because he's earning it. Yeah. His production, you can't keep him out of there if he keeps making plays."
Scrimmage Stats (April 9, 2011)
RUSHING (Att.-Yds.) -- Trumpy 11-63; Tyris Jones 12-45, 1 TD; Hanrahan 6-30; Kurzawski 5-8; Watkins 4-(4); Siemian 3-(6).
PASSING (Comp.-Att.-Int.) -- Siemian 8-12-1, 86 yds.; Watkins 8-21-0, 71 yds., 1 TD.
RECEIVING -- D. Fields 5-37; Dupper 3-46; C. Brown 3-13, 1 TD; Lawrence 2-41; Jensen 1-11; Trumpy 1-6; Tyris Jones 1-3.
NOTES: Trumpy had runs of 33 and 25 yards ... Three of Watkins' incompletions were dropped balls by his receivers ... Redshirt sophomore defensive end Tyler Scott picked off Trevor Siemian on the scrimmage's second play ... The offense fumbled twice, but recovered the ball on both occasions ... Rashad Lawrence caught the scrimmage's longest pass, a 36-yarder from his classmate and prep QB Trevor Siemian ... After dropping a couple passes in last Saturday's scrimmage, redshirt freshman walk-on Torin Dupper responded with three catches for 46 yards. He caught 10-yard and 23-yard passes from Watkins
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